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A Coleraine police officer, who is alleged to have sent text messages linked to the murder of a 28-year-old man outside a Toome nightclub, has appeared in court.

Sergeant Cathy Thompson, who is based at Coleraine PSNI station, faces two charges of perverting the course of justice, and a further charge of withholding information.

The 33-year-old appeared at Magherafelt Court last week.

She has been suspended from duties as the investigation continues.

James McDonagh (24), pictured above, died in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, from head injuries following an attack outside the Elk Inn nightclub on January 11.

A man has already been charged with the murder.

Sergeant Thompson is alleged to have committed the offences between January 10 and January 16.

One charge of perverting the course of justice related to a text message which she allegedly sent, a crown prosecutor told the court.

The message stated: “Yeah, don’t have anything in the house that you should not have. They will search the whole house for clothing.”

The second charge of perverting the course of justice relates to a second text message which read: “Tell him to behave and say nothing”.

Thompson was released on her own bail of £500, and the case was adjourned until April 13.